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Court Discusses Immunity Offer Made by Grand Jury


Television shows often idealize the criminal who turns states evidence and is given immunity from prosecution. Because of this, people who commit crimes sometimes think that they can just turn evidence on a co-defendant and get immunity for the crimes that they have committed. A New York Criminal Lawyer said the reality is a little different. In order for a prosecutor to be interested in conferring immunity on a person who has committed a crime, the evidence that they are able to provide must be critical to the conviction of a criminal who is more valuable to the prosecutor than they are. That type of situation does not happen frequently. When it does, it is involving crimes that are serious in nature.

One 1980 case involved a man who had been a co-conspirator in a gasoline station conglomerate scam. He and his partner had purchased several gasoline stations in the 1970’s with the intention of having a thriving business. Unfortunately, they discovered that they were not very good at that business and within the first year, they were in serious financial trouble. They had gone into debt with several major oil companies and knew that if any one of them called in the debts that were owed, the company would fail. They devised a scheme to prevent the oil companies from finding out that they were in trouble. They began to falsify the company records. They created fraudulent profit numbers in order to get more credit from the oil companies and keep them from calling in the debts that the company already owed them. When they began to claim fraudulent profits, they had to maintain the scam with fraudulent information reported on tax returns and in the company business records. Like so many criminal schemes, what seemed like a one- time lie soon snowballed out of control. The lies grew and the fraudulent records increased. Before long, they were discovered and arrested. One of the men maintained that the other partner was the driving force behind the idea to defraud the oil companies. He approached the grand jury with the proposal that he would testify against his partner in return for immunity. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said the grand jury agreed as far as one of the schemes was concerned. Later, when the prosecutor indicted him on one of the other charges, he claimed that he had been given immunity from prosecution by the grand jury if he had testified before them.

The state was called upon to clarify what the intentions had been in the grand jury room when the offer of immunity was made. They needed to determine if the offer was made solely on that charge, or if the agreement had been made to provide immunity from prosecution on all related offenses for the man who agreed to testify against his business partner. In order to determine what the actual deal entailed, the Supreme Court needed to review all of the records from the grand jury testimony. A New York Criminal Lawyer said the ability to interpret exactly what was intended soon became clear.

The grand jury had specifically restricted the offer of immunity to only one of the numerous offenses that the two men had been involved in. A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said the offer of immunity did not extend to the criminal acts that the man was being charged with by the grand jury at the time that he claimed immunity from prosecution. Needless to say, the man was upset, however, whenever a deal is struck in regards to limitations on prosecution, it is critical that all parties involved are completely clear on what the offer is that is on the table and what it applies to. In this case, the man had provided evidence against himself as well as evidence against the other partner without realizing that it was going to be used against him.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its white collar crime Lawyers, have convenient offices throughout New York and Metropolitan area. Our criminal lawyers can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations. Without a fraud attorney, you could lose precious compensation to help your family.

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